It's Your Business: Woman turns love of crocheting into Hat Factory
Georgia Beckman is proof-positive you can make money crocheting.
Using Facebook and Etsy, an online marketplace for crafts, the Farmer City grandmother has sold more than 1,000 crocheted hats since last October.
Beckman, 47, calls her business The Hat Factory. She makes imaginative hats — mostly for infants and children — that look like penguins, bears, bunnies and monsters, among other things.
And she loves the work.
"I'll be forever grateful," she said of discovering her new career. "I love to crochet. I do what I love, and it makes everyone happy."
That includes her husband, Robert.
"I think he's glad I'm making my own money again because I like to spend a lot on my grandkids," Beckman said.
She has 14 grandchildren — eight girls and six boys. Every one of them has a hat she's made, "and they'll be getting new ones this winter," she said.
Beckman's passion began eight years ago, when she started crocheting afghans and giving them away.
Last year, a cousin asked Beckman to make a sock monkey hat for his new child. Then Beckman's sister asked her to make a sleepy-owl hat for a new granddaughter.
Beckman started a Facebook page for her business last October, "and it just exploded," she said. "I have over 200 orders on my books now, and it's been that way since I started."
The wait time for orders now is about four to six weeks, she said.
Beckman said she buys about 75 percent of her patterns and comes up with the other 25 percent herself.
The most popular? The "classic newsboy" cap, which sold 50; Hello Kitty, 36; sleepy owl, 34; and sock monkey, 26.
Most hats sell in the $20 to $25 range, but an abominable snowman design that uses fringy yarn sells for $40.
Sales come from all over the United States, and she's also had orders from Canada, New Zealand, Singapore and the United Kingdom.
The Hat Factory has a website — http://www.the-hat-factory.com — but Beckman said she doesn't do much business from the website.
Ninety-five percent of her sales come from her Facebook business page, she said, and the other 5 percent comes from her Etsy store.
Beckman formerly worked in customer service for the W. Newell & Co. produce distribution center in Champaign and, before that, at the Eureka Co. in Bloomington-Normal.
But she's really putting in the hours now.
"I crochet from the time I get up until the time I go to bed — approximately 16 to 20 hours a day," she said. "I get up between 1 and 2 a.m. every day, and I crochet until I go to bed about 10-ish."
Update on Crossroads store
All 14 vendor spaces at the soon-to-open Crossroads Corner Consignment store have been taken, according to co-owner William Fleming.
The store, which will occupy the southwest corner of the Whiteline building at 723 S. Neil St., C, is scheduled to open Aug. 2.
As reported earlier, the store will offer furniture, home decor and jewelry, with roughly half the 2,600 square feet devoted to vendor space and the remainder devoted to consignment goods.
Fleming said customers can find vintage furniture — ranging from Victorian furniture to "mid-century modern" pieces from the 1940s, '50s and '60s to "shabby chic" items.
They'll also find Asian artwork, home accessories and primitive items.
Fleming said he and co-owner Kenny Lamm will begin accepting consignments July 27. Prospective consignors can make appointments by calling Fleming at 309-696-1699, or Lamm at 217-979-1905.
Hours for the store will be 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. The store will be closed on Mondays.
Building renovation in Savoy
Remember the fire that damaged Illinois State Geological Survey offices at 1808 Woodfield Drive, Savoy, in November 2010?
The owners of the building have decided to renovate it extensively, with hopes of having it ready for occupancy early next year.
The three-level building, known as the Professional Commerce Center, will get a new elevator and new bathrooms, among other things.
Jerry Ramshaw, whose firm is handling the marketing and lease-up of the building, said the renovation will cost more than $1 million and likely take five or six months.
Besides the geological survey, other tenants at the time of the fire included: Prepare Inc., an engineering and architecture firm; a massage therapy business; and the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.
Ramshaw said when renovated, the building could be made available to a single tenant or to multiple tenants.
Are you opening a business or changing one? Contact Don Dodson at 351-5227 or 800-252-3346; by email at firstname.lastname@example.org; or by mail at The News-Ga-zette, c/o It's Your Business column, P.O. Box 677, Champaign, IL 61824-0677.